Life at a new pace for former copper

Jacinta CantatoreSouth Western Times
Former Harvey Police officer in charge Laurie Morley believes the proposed legislation has been a long time coming.
Camera IconFormer Harvey Police officer in charge Laurie Morley believes the proposed legislation has been a long time coming. Credit: Harvey Reporter, Jacinta Cantatore

Sitting on the veranda of Laurie Morley’s home in the back blocks of Harvey, you could be fooled into thinking life had always been this simple.

His three dogs take turns sitting on his lap and he talks lovingly about each one, as well as his horses, cats, budgies and finches.

“I am in nirvana here,” Laurie said.

The faded jeans, flannel shirt and work boots are a far cry from the police uniform he hung up for good last year after 43 years on the force.

Laurie’s past two years in blue however, are clouded by the significant physical and mental effects of being assaulted while off duty on October 16, 2015.

“I was buying a bottle of wine for dinner when I saw a young man go flying backwards past the door with about 10 people after him,” he said.

Without hesitating Laurie stepped in, identified himself as a police officer and tried to protect the young man who was being kicked, punched, stomped and spat on.

“I thought they were going to kill him,” Laurie said.

The offenders turned their attention to Laurie and in the commotion that followed Laurie was king hit in the face while having his arm pulled behind him so hard that it tore the ligament and tissue connecting his hand to his arm. He was also struck on his elbow with an object that doctors believe was a hammer.

“I honestly believed I was going to be killed,” he said.

And he may have been right.

Once his colleagues helped break up the fight, a hammer and a 33cm knife were found at the scene.

The weeks, months and four major surgeries that followed were dark days for Laurie.

“After a few weeks of realising I was seriously hurt and going to require a substantial amount of time off work, my biggest fear was being boarded out medically under Section 8 of the Police Act,” he said.

“At that time it was a diabolical piece of legislation which only permitted the Police Commissioner to lay off injured coppers under the same section that permitted him to dismiss police officers for loss of confidence or unlawful behaviour.”

A new piece of legislation has been tabled in WA Parliament, the Police Amendment Medical Retirement Bill, which would allow ill or injured officers to retire under medical grounds.

“Retiring with dignity can have an immense mental benefit to a police officer,” Laurie said. He hopes the bill is passed, unlike a similar bill put forward in 2006 by then Member of Parliament Murray Cowper, but voted down by Mark McGowan and Michelle Roberts.

“For it to have been raised 20 years ago and still not be actioned until 2019 is a complete disgrace on all governments on all sides of the political spectrum,” Laurie said.

“This has been a long time coming.”

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